By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
Negros Occidental pride Kib Montalbo didn’t disappoint and quickly silenced his doubters.
After making the final cut in the 2022 Gilas Pilipinas official lineup for the FIBA Asia February window qualifiers, the pesky guard from Bacolod immediately let his presence felt and showed his value to the national team after their huge 88-64 victory over India.
The young two-way guard had an efficient night shooting the long ball and finished the game with eight points and three rebounds on 50% shooting from three-point territory.
Probably one of the main highlights of the game, Montalbo capped off the fiery Gilas run during the third quarter with a Stephen Curry range buzzer-beater trey that increased their lead to 21, 68-47.
“I’ve always had a chip on my shoulder, trying to prove that I belong. But at the end of the day, I’m focused on being the best version of myself, trying to improve each day, trying to help the team. That’s all that matters to me and as long as we’re winning, I’m good with that,” Montalbo said.
Aside from the consistent three-point shooting Montalbo brought in Gilas’ game against India, the TNT Tropang Giga upcoming star also provided the defensive energy that bothered India’s passing lanes.
Known to be one of TNT’s toughest defenders, Montalbo hounded India’s guards the moment head coach Chot Reyes called his number for Gilas.
Way back his high school days at St. John’s Institute in Bacolod, Montalbo was a pure-scorer and had tons of responsibilities carrying his squad offensively.
However, soon as joining the De La Salle University Green Archers where he won two UAAP championships, Montalbo polished his game into a more defensive-oriented type to make himself more flexible and efficient for his PBA transition.
“I think I’m the energy guy, providing energy on defense and making shots. At the end of the day, coach wants me to put on the pressure on ball handlers, so that’s what I need to do and coach needs that energy for me,” Montalbo added.